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Ankle injuries are defined by the kind of tissue -- bone, ligament, or tendon -- that's damaged. The ankle is where three bones meet -- the tibia and fibula of your lower leg with the talus of your foot. These bones are held together at the ankle joint by ligaments, which are strong elastic bands of connective tissue that keep the bones in place while allowing normal ankle motion. Tendons attach muscles to the bones to do the work of making the ankle and foot move, and help keep the joints stable.

Common injuries to the ankle include:

  • Fractures

  • Sprains

  • Tendon Ruptures and Ligament Damage


The symptoms of a sprain and of a fracture are very similar. In fact, fractures can sometimes be mistaken for sprains. That's why it's important to have an ankle injury evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. The signs include:

  • Pain, often sudden and severe

  • Swelling

  • Bruising

  • Inability to walk or bear weight on the injured joint

  • With a sprain, the ankle may also be stiff. With a fracture the area will be tender to the touch, and the ankle may also look deformed or out of place.


Fractures can be treated either surgically or nonsurgically. The doctor may treat the break without surgery by immobilizing the ankle if only one bone is broken, and if the bones are not out of place and the ankle is stable. If the ankle is unstable, the fracture will be treated surgically.

The treatment for sprains depends on the severity of the injury. Surgery is not usually a treatment option unless the damage is extensive or when other treatment options fail.

Options for treating tendon injuries are:

  • Immobilization using a cast or splint

  • Oral or injected anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Physical therapy

  • A brace to provide support

  • Surgery to repair the tendon or tendons

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